Species Diversity

The Fall Line serves as a critical dividing point for aquatic species in the Black Warrior river basin evidenced by 19 Coastal Plain species limited to below the Fall Line and 5 upland species limited to above this feature. (Mettee)

Historical fish sampling in the Black Warrior River Basin has found 126 species and one stocked hybrid bass between 1937 through 1988. 76 species were found in the Mulberry Fork, 74 in the Locust Fork, 78 species in the Sipsey Fork and 80 species from the North River. One species, the Cahaba Shiner, recently found in the Locust Fork, was previously believed to exist only in the Cahaba River Basin. (Metee)(State of Rivers)

There are two endangered species of fish in the Basin protected by the Endangered Species Act:

The Watercress darter (Etheostoma nuchale) is an endangered species found in a small federally protected spring that is part of the Valley Creek watershed. (See Protected Areas) (Mettee)

black warrior species
Watercress Darter

The Vermillion darter (Etheostoma chermocki) is only found in a three to five mile stretch of Turkey Creek in Northern Jefferson County near the town of Pinson. This is one of the most recently described fish in the State of Alabama. Due to its small and isolated population it has recently been added to the Federal Endangered Species List.

Fish species of Concern in the Black Warrior basin include
Warrior bridled darter (Percina sp)
Warrior darter (Etheostoma bellator)
Tuskaloosa darter (Etheostoma douglasi)

Former species of the Black Warrior like the American eel, Alabama shad, gulf sturgeon, Alabama sturgeon and skipjack herring are unable to migrate (navigate) over locks and dams and are fragmented from their former/historic Black Warrior habitats.

Fish status in Black Warrior Basin
Total species 126
# threatened or endangered 2

There are 48 species of native mussels known from the Black Warrior River Basin (49 including the Asian clam Corbicula which is a non-native species). (McGregor) Alabama’s mussel diversity is significant on a world scale with the Mobile River Basin second only to the Tennessee River Basin in terms of freshwater mussel diversity. (McGregor and Pierson)

Mussel status in Black Warrior Basin
Total species 49 (includes Corbicula)
# extinct 3
# extirpated 3
# threatened or endangered 11
# imperiled 2
# special concern 9

The Dark pigtoe (Pleurobema furvum), an endangered species, was found at 8 locations (26 specimens) in the Bankhead National Forest during a 1992 survey. Stream localities were typically shallow waters with stable gravel to cobble substrates, occasionally with some sand or silt, and a moderate to swift current. (GSA)

The Orange-nacre mucket (Lampsilis perovalis), a threatened species, is the most common mussel found in the Bankhead National Forest. Recent surveys found 307 individuals at 17 locations, representing 34% of all the mussels collected. The orange-nacre mucket is found in small headwater streams as well as larger streams with gravelly substrate or a cobble substrate covered by silt with no noticeable current. (GSA)

The Alabama moccasinshell (Medionidus acutissimus), a threatened species, is generally found in smaller creeks or headwaters of larger streams in slow to moderate current in gravel with a silt or sand layer overlying. 26 specimens were collected at 6 locations in the Bankhead National Forest in 92. (GSA)

The Fine lined pocketbook (Lampsilis altilis), a threatened species, is found in many varied habitats. 57 individuals at 11 locations were collected in the Bankhead National Forest during a survey in 92. This represented 6% of the total mussels found. (GSA)

The Triangular Kidneyshell Mussel (Ptychobranchus greeni) was once widely distributed throughout the entire Mobile River Watershed but is now found only in the Sipsey and Locust Fork tributaries in the Black Warrior Basin (rarely found in the Locust Fork).

One species believed to be extinct, Pleurobema hagleri, was known from the North River near Tuscaloosa and Valley Creek near Birmingham.


The Plicate Rocksnail (Leptoxis plicata), an endangered species was found in a 55 mile reach of the Locust Fork in 91-92. Just 4 years later its habitat was limited to a 20-mile reach in Jefferson County. (Fed Reg. Oct. 28, 1998)

The Flattened Musk Turtle (Sternotherus depressus) is a threatened species and an Alabama endemic found only in acceptable habitats in the upper portion of the Black Warrior River system above Bankhead Dam. (Mount and USFWS)

black warrier species 2
Photo by Malcolm PiersonĀ©